Free in this Moment
In my upcoming book, there’s a chapter called “Get Out of Your Own Way.” As I teach what I need to learn, I wrote that chapter to remind myself how often I hold onto things that prevent me from living as well as I could. The main roadblocks blocking my path to higher awareness are me, myself, and I– and the way is not made easier by the untold tons of baggage I carry with me like an overladen donkey.
Anything we hold onto blocks the flow of energy. I’m not just talking about being a “hoarder” here, although that habit tends to block up the hallways. When I talk about the things we hold on to, I’m referring to any experience, memory, belief system, or mindset, good or bad, that governs our behavior. You might be surprised that I include positive experiences along with the negative. There are two reasons for this. First, good and bad are relative terms, and often two sides of the same coin. Think about how happy memories can make you cry, and how remembering hard times can make your chest swell with pride. We constantly reinterpret our own past to make sense of our present and predict our future.
More importantly, everything that’s happened to us, good or bad, is equally irrelevant to the present moment. Each day we are born again, but we don’t know it; we believe too much in our own myths, in the stories we’ve woven from our pasts. When we hang onto anything we don’t want, we are resisting something that’s already happened; when we hang onto anything we really like, we are grasping at the ghosts of our own yesterdays. According to the Buddha, holding on only creates suffering. To be free, we have to let the past be.
When I was 12 years old, I was falsely accused of stealing some fruits and vegetables from a local produce stand. It was an unnerving experience that hit me hard, and neither me nor my family ever patronized that stand again. We deprived ourselves of some admittedly delicious produce to appease my ego, which never fully processed the impact of the accusation. But ignoring is not the same as letting go.
In fact, I hung onto that sour memory, and it showed up throughout my life in many limiting ways. I became very cautious and mindful of always following the rules. I was never going to put myself in a situation where I could be falsely accused of any wrongdoing. More significantly, I became risk-averse. Though I was never a thief, the sting of the stand owner’s accusation lodged itself in my memory and led to a perfectionism which has caused me to play smaller, so as to never again be accused of doing the wrong thing. Some luck I’ve had with that strategy!
In Michael Singer’s book, Living Untethered, he writes of the importance of surrendering. To be truly free, we must accept any and all experiences that life sends us. Instead, we often suppress or cling to these experiences, only to have them consistently return in unresourceful ways. Not fully processing all of life’s experiences blocks energy flow and prevents us from reaching our full potential.
So, instead of holding on, consider letting go. Let go of the memories and mindsets that block your energy. Remember that each moment is a fresh opportunity to be present and accept what is, recognizing that whatever is happening in the moment is the only thing that can, as evidenced by the fact that it is. If we can only learn to bear up to our present experience in real time, we will be free of the lingering ghosts of moments long past, as well as the beckoning anxieties of tomorrow and tomorrow.
If you’re interested in developing a mindfulness practice that will ground you in the present moment, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to help.